Apply for a Zoning Ordinance Interpretation

Do you feel the Planning Commission or Director made an unfair decision on your application? You’re in the right place. You can apply for an interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance.

Online

We don’t accept online applications for this service.

You can complete the paper application. Click the Paper Form tab of this page for instructions and to download the form. Call or visit our office if you need help applying. You can find our number and address in the Contact Us section of this page. We’re happy to help you fill out an application.

Paper Form

How it works

The Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps can be difficult to understand. We use these to decide how you can use or develop a property. Our planning commissioners go through extensive training using the Zoning Ordinance. We’re all capable of making mistakes. That’s why we have this opportunity to review their decisions.

Code Interpretation is a checks and balance system. They make sure decision from the Planning Commission and Planning Director are fair. When a decision on development or use of property is made, you can request a code interpretation. You’ll request a text interpretation or a map interpretation.

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reviews the code in question. The members then make a decision about whether this was fair.  

Have the property address and owner permission ready

Have the property address related to the request ready. If you’re not the property owner, get written permission from the property owner to apply. You’ll need to attach a copy of the written permission. Make sure it’s signed, dated, and includes permission to apply for Code Interpretation.

Identify the specific language or map boundary

Review the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps(PDF, 15MB). You'll need to include the section of text you're referencing for this application. You can attach a copy of the highlighted language or map area if you like.

Prepare to describe your interpretation and reasoning

Prepare an explanation of what you think the purpose of this language is. We’ll ask what it means if the BZA agrees with your interpretation.

Prepare your payment

Be prepared to pay the $1,378 application fee. We accept checks, money orders and credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard and Discover).

Submit your application

Mail, email or drop off your application and documents to us using the information in the Contact Us section of this page.

We'll review you application

We’ll review your application and contact you if we need more information. Once the application is complete, we’ll place it on the agenda of the next available meeting of the BZA. We’ll let you know what day and time we scheduled your application.

We'll make a staff recommendation

We’ll review your application and make a recommendation the BZA.

Attend the meeting

On the day the BZA reviews your application, you’ll speak to the BZA members. Our staff will introduce your application to the BZA. Then, you’ll present your information and request.

The BZA meets in the Public Hearing Room 201 on the second floor of our office. Find the address in the contact us section of this page.

Board of Zoning Appeals makes a decision

After you present your case, members of the board may ask you or our staff questions related to your case. The board members will then discuss the case with each other in this open meeting. You’ll hear their conversation and reasoning as they discuss. Members have to follow rules for making interpretations.

Their decision for interpretations aligns with these standards:

  1. Is not specifically listed in any other Zone District
  2. Is generally consistent with the purpose of the Zone District and this Chapter
  3. Does not harm the use of other properties within the same Zone District or the neighboring area
  4. Has no greater potential impact on surrounding properties than those listed in the Zone District related to aesthetics, traffic generated, noise, potential nuisances, and other impacts related to health, safety and general welfare
  5. Is consistent with the Master Plan or other relevant adopted plans of the City

We'll send you written notice

After the BZA makes a decision, we’ll send you a letter that documents this ruling.

You'll be able to seek a Text Amendment or Zone Change

You can’t appeal the BZA’s formal interpretation. However, you can seek a Text Amendment or Zone Change through the Planning Commission. 

Phone

Call us for instructions to apply

You can find our number in the Contact Us section of this page. We’ll get you all the information you need to complete your application. We don’t offer applications over the phone, but we’ll make sure you have everything you need to get your application submitted.

In Person

How it works

The Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps can be difficult to understand. We use these to decide how you can use or develop a property. Our planning commissioners go through extensive training using the Zoning Ordinance. We’re all capable of making mistakes. That’s why we have this opportunity to review their decisions.

Code Interpretation is a checks and balance system. They make sure decision from the Planning Commission and Planning Director are fair. When a decision on development or use of property is made, you can request a code interpretation. You’ll request a text interpretation or a map interpretation.

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reviews the code in question. The members then make a decision about whether this was fair.  

Have the property address and owner permission ready

Have the property address related to the request ready. If you’re not the property owner, get written permission from the property owner to apply. You’ll need to attach a copy of the written permission. Make sure it’s signed, dated, and includes permission to apply for Code Interpretation.

Identify the specific language or map boundary

Review the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps(PDF, 15MB). You'll need to include the section of text you're referencing for this application. You can attach a copy of the highlighted language or map area if you like.

Prepare to describe your interpretation and reasoning

Prepare an explanation of what you think the purpose of this language is. We’ll ask what it means if the BZA agrees with your interpretation.

Prepare your payment

Be prepared to pay the $1,378 application fee. We accept checks, money orders and credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard and Discover).

Visit our office

Visit us at the address listed in the Contact Us section of this page. We'll provide you with an application and help you complete it. Below is the form if you'd like to print it before you come in.

Code Interpretation Application(PDF, 1MB)

We'll review you application

We’ll review your application and contact you if we need more information. Once the application is complete, we’ll place it on the agenda of the next available meeting of the BZA. We’ll let you know what day and time we scheduled your application.

We'll make a staff recommendation

We’ll review your application and make a recommendation the BZA.

Attend the meeting

On the day the BZA reviews your application, you’ll speak to the BZA members. Our staff will introduce your application to the BZA. Then, you’ll present your information and request.

The BZA meets in the Public Hearing Room 201 on the second floor of our office. Find the address in the contact us section of this page.

Board of Zoning Appeals makes a decision

After you present your case, members of the board may ask you or our staff questions related to your case. The board members will then discuss the case with each other in this open meeting. You’ll hear their conversation and reasoning as they discuss. Members have to follow rules for making interpretations.

Their decision for interpretations aligns with these standards:

  1. Is not specifically listed in any other Zone District
  2. Is generally consistent with the purpose of the Zone District and this Chapter
  3. Does not harm the use of other properties within the same Zone District or the neighboring area
  4. Has no greater potential impact on surrounding properties than those listed in the Zone District related to aesthetics, traffic generated, noise, potential nuisances, and other impacts related to health, safety and general welfare
  5. Is consistent with the Master Plan or other relevant adopted plans of the City

We'll send you written notice

After the BZA makes a decision, we’ll send you a letter that documents this ruling.

You'll be able to seek a Text Amendment or Zone Change

You can’t appeal the BZA’s formal interpretation. However, you can seek a Text Amendment or Zone Change through the Planning Commission.